Kendall business association expands reach, changes name

Chair Jorge Pena and Rosanna M. Fiske share a laugh at podium.

The “Greater Kendall Business Association” debuted a new mission and logo to encompass the county’s largest area of businesses and merchants during its final meeting as the West Kendall Business Association on Jan. 19.

“We’re following our members’ direction to expand our geographic scope and build even a stronger organization for all of Kendall,” declared chair Jorge Pena at a meeting of more than 160 members at Killian Palms Country Club.

“Now, we will be expanding our reach throughout all of Kendall, from Bird Road south to The Falls and east to US 1,” he stated. “We will be announcing new programs and attracting new members in the months ahead.

“We embarked on a research project to determine what you wanted us to do and you told us to increase our reach to all businesses east of Florida’s Turnpike to US 1,” explained Pena, a WKBA charter member and a key organizer for its predecessor organization.

“We’ll embrace all of Kendall without infringing on existing groups in Westchester, Coral Gables and Pinecrest,” he added.

Pena was a regular among a small group of West Kendall business people casually meeting for breakfasts that began WKBAat the turn of the century. Pena served as the first president of West Kendall Businessmen’s Association in 2005 before its title was shortened to “Business” Association.

Current association membership has grown to more 200 companies and businesses whose owners and staff meet for monthly luncheons and networking sessions. A major yearly event showcases members at “Expo” that in October 2011 hosted 190 Kendall area businesses at the Lexus of West Kendall dealership.

The 2011 board of directors that proposed and structured the expansion included Pena; Michael J. Welch Sr., chair-elect; Julio Rico, first vice chair; Gilma Hernandez, secretary; Damian Landeiro, treasurer; Frank E. Irizarry Jr., immediate past chair; Ricardo Belmar, Lourdes Cervera Horton, Miguel A. Lopez, Isabel Medina, Cathy Otero and Enrique Roque, members. Retiring board members honored for their past service included Roberta Johnson, Henry Fernandez-Cavada, Jose Meneses, Grant Miller and Georgina Gonzalez-Robiou.

In another meeting highlight, a check for $4,053 was presented by the association to the Villa Lyan School in Kendall that provides special learning assistance to disabled youngsters. All proceeds from a December holiday party are given annually to a deserving non-profit organization each year.

The GKBA maintains a suite of offices at 14221 SW 120 St. with membership information provided by telephone at 358-385-4030.

“Get someone on your staff to become your own communications expert,” advised Rosanna M. Fiske, chair/CEO of Public Relations Society of America, speaking to the newly reorganized Greater Kendall Business Association on Jan. 19.

An FIU instructor in communications who commutes regularly between New York and Miami, she described “how to rebrand your business in 2012,” urging members to start using Twitter to provide fast customer response.

Emphasizing that good business relations can depend upon maximizing use of “social media,” she told of her own 39- minute wait to reach Comcast until “I gave up and tweeted them. In less than 15 minutes, I got a human voice response from their Jacksonville office, asking ‘Can I help you?’”

Added Fiske, “Advertising is telling what you offer; public relations is provides an accountability to build your company’s reputation successfully — or not. That is a vital difference in communicating with your customers today.”

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